Review: Shadow and Bone: Season 1

Series: Shadow and Bone: #1

Saints become martyrs before they get to be heroes.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I hadn’t actually read the books (although now I really wanted to) and for the first episode or two, I really thought it was some sort of cheesy YA fantasy, a la Hunger Games and the ilk.

But a few episodes in… and it really started to grow on me. The world building is fascinating, primarily the basis on a broad Asian setting, but with an emphasis on Russian roots, with some influences (in other nations) from China and India. The magic system is a bit cheesey and somewhat unexplained (so far), but at the very least it’s pretty?

On top of that, you have absolutely wonderful characters/actors. Jessie Mei Li nails it as lead Alina Starkov, Ben Barnes as General Kirigan–plays his character rather well (he actually has the gravitas of old, powerful, and twisted, which not everyone can pull off ). But the ones that really shine are the Crows (I don’t think they’re referred to as such in the show?): Freddy Carter as Kaz, Amita Suman as Inej and Kit Young as Jesper. There are rumors that they might get their own show and that would be awesome.

In any case, worth a watch. And we’re getting Season 2, hopefully sometime next year? Onward!

Individual episode thoughts (spoilers):

1. A Searing Burst of Light

Elemental magic, a giant storm/void thing, lighter than air craft? Neat worldbuilding! Russia/Sibera/East Asian characters and racism galore. Makes for an interesting cast.

Having the main character being a cartographer of all things is fascinating.

So far Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov and Freddy Carter as Kaz Krekker are great casting. Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

2. We’re All Someone’s Monster

Ooh, there’s a lot going on here. Expected the General to be more evil… he might still be. Chosen One… but we’ll go with it. A gangster that might actually be good? I think Kaz is still my favorite. Onward.

3. The Making at the Heart of the World

Safin is fun.

How can Kirigan force her power? (nevermind, answered)

The Advisor is … certainly something. Not sure what to think about him.

The variety of Powers (capital names and all) is interesting. Grisha! Small Science! Proper nouns! Seems a bit weird that they’re so siloed. No hybrids? Experimentation? I wonder if we’ll get more into that.

4. Otkazat’sya

Jesper: Yes! … Time for a heist.

He’s fun.

Training! Discovering oneself! Planning! Remembering! Slow movement forward.

5. Show Me Who You Are

Alina, sneaky and starting to fit in. It’s cute.

Mal, determined to make his way to Alina.

Not many people surprise me, Miss Starkov.

That won’t possibly go wrong.

Also, heist time. It’s probably the B plot—but by far the more fun one.

Oh those last few minutes though. The Black Heretic himself! Inej!

The look on Jesper’s face… when Alina climbed into their getaway carriage was absolutely delightful.

6. The Heart is an Arrow

Oh man. Now that Kirrigan is revealed hes so much more twisted. Awesome.

Sudden Mal! How in the world did that happen.

Nina’s story is adorable. Not sure if it relates to anything. But it’s fun.

7. The Unsee

Kirigan backstory! Complicated yo.

The hints at the magic beyond Grisha are interesting.

So… he literally told her he was evil, and what he was going to do to her. And then did it. Bit of nice body horror there.

Also… why did the goat have a bullet?

8. No Mourners

Daw, Nina and Matthias. Expected trouble, But now we have to wait another for another season.

Man Kirigan is power drunk. Quite the plan. World domination and all that.

Zoya, scorned!

Gogo Sun Summoner!

The fact that they all split up… only to end up on the same ship was kind of weird.